The Latest U.S. Shortage: Generic Drugs

Happy Wednesday! First they turned Winnie the Pooh into a gory slasher film, now they want to reimagine Bambi as a “vicious killing machine that lurks in the wilderness.” We must prevent our childhoods from lapsing into the public domain at all costs.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Chinese public health officials and state-run media organizations have begun to adjust their COVID-19 messaging after widespread protests over pandemic restrictions erupted across the country in recent days, emphasizing data showing the Omicron variant is less severe than earlier strains. Local officials in Zhengzhou—home of one of Apple’s largest manufacturing facilities—also ended a strict five-day lockdown of the city on Tuesday. At the same time, Chinese Communist Party security officials escalated their crackdown on demonstrations yesterday, tapping into their surveillance capabilities to track down protesters and deter future demonstrations. Protests reportedly planned for Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai on Monday and Tuesday were canceled. 
  • The Senate voted 61-36 on Tuesday to advance the bipartisan Respect for Marriage Act, which—if passed by the House and signed into law by President Joe Biden as expected—would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and provide federal protections for same-sex and interracial couples in the unlikely event that the Supreme Court revisits and overturns its 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges or 1967 ruling in Loving v. Virginia. Social conservative groups have expressed concerns the legislation would infringe on Americans’ religious liberty, but 12 Republicans—including Sens. Susan Collins, Joni Ernst, Mitt Romney, and Thom Tillis—voted in favor of it after the Senate adopted a bipartisan amendment that clarified nonprofit religious organizations would not be required to “provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage” and affirmed that “diverse beliefs about the role of gender in marriage are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises.” 
  • After Qatari leaders previously maintained that just three workers died on the job while constructing World Cup sites over the last decade, Hassan Al-Thawadi—the Qatari official responsible for the World Cup—told Piers Morgan in a TV interview the government now estimates “between 400 and 500” deaths can be attributed to the mass development project. Independent estimates from The Guardian and Amnesty International put the figure well into the thousands, though their data applies to all migrant workers in Qatar since 2010, not just migrant workers constructing World Cup sites.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new $53 million energy security package for Ukraine on Tuesday, tapping into previously approved congressional aid to send Ukraine transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, and disconnectors after Russian airstrikes have wreaked havoc on the country’s electrical infrastructure in recent weeks.
  • New York City Mayor Eric Adams issued an order Tuesday expanding law enforcement officers’ authority to take mentally ill New Yorkers into custody and bring them to a psychiatric hospital for an evaluation—with or without their consent. Officers were already allowed to apprehend and evaluate individuals behaving “in a manner likely to result in serious harm to self or others,” but Adams’ order will extend that power to anyone who “appears to have a mental illness and cannot support their basic human needs” to an extent that causes them harm. “A common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent, suicidal, or presenting a risk of imminent harm,” Adams said. “This myth must be put to rest.”
  • A jury in Washington, D.C., found Stewart Rhodes—founder of the anti-government paramilitary group the Oath Keepers—guilty of seditious conspiracy on Tuesday for his role in the effort to block the peaceful transfer of power on and before January 6, 2021. The verdict represents the first successful application of the Civil War-era charge in decades, and both Rhodes and one of his co-defendants, Kelly Meggs, face up to 20 years in prison. Rhodes’ lawyers said their client plans to appeal, noting he was acquitted on other charges prosecutors brought against him.
  • U.S. single-family home prices fell 1 percent from August to September, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index—the measure’s third consecutive month of decline. The index—which operates on a two-month lag—was still up 10.7 percent year-over-year in September, down from a 12.9 percent annual rate in August. 
  • The U.S. men’s national soccer team advanced to the knockout stage of the World Cup on Tuesday after defeating Iran 1-0 to finish second in their group. The team’s next game will come against the Netherlands on Saturday.

Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Déjà Vu

(Photo by Stan Honda / AFP via Getty Images.)

In the spring and early summer, it was baby formula. Now a new set of shortages is vexing American medical providers and their patients: Dozens of commonly-prescribed generic drugs, including amoxicillin and other antibiotics as well as antivirals, are in sudden high demand, and supply hasn’t been able to keep up.

Communities across the country are experiencing a “tripledemic” right now as the flu, COVID-19, and RSV rip through schools and families. As we wrote to you last week, we’re likely seeing the effects years of isolation and masking had on children’s immune systems and natural rates of infection:

Pandemic safety measures suppressed the spread of RSV, leading to rock-bottom case counts in 2020. Now the virus is making up for lost time, reaching children who didn’t catch it in the last couple of years. “We are also seeing two or three-year-olds that actually have fairly severe RSV because they weren’t exposed to it when they were younger,” Dr. Tina Tan—vice president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a pediatrics professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine—told The Dispatch. “Pediatric hospitals especially are completely overwhelmed.”

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